This year marks the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks. The two races were first ran in 1875 and founded by Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark. They will take place this Friday and Saturday beneath the twin spires of Churchill Downs. While the Derby is known for mint juleps, roses and big hats, the Oaks – being a Grade 1 race for young female horses (fillies) only – is known for pink lilies and fundraising for breast and ovarian cancers.
While it is important to take bloodlines, physical build, performance, and training into consideration when picking a horse, sometimes it comes down to sheer luck.
- Always Dreaming, 5-1
(Source: Coady Photography, Churchill Downs)
This horse has shown in recent workouts how much power he has. At the Florida Derby in April, he won by 5 lengths with a time of 1:47.47. He likes to hang towards the front of the field, which can make or break a horse in the move up to 1 1/4 mile races.
2. Gunnevera, 15-1
Purchased for only $16,000 at the 2015 Keeneland sale, Gunnevera was one of the best juveniles in the country last year and has been developing quite nicely this season. He usually finds his pace early and finishes strong, which would suggest he will be successful moving up to the 1 1/4 mile distance.
3. Classic Empire, 4-1
Classic Empire won the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and Futurity in 2016. His sire is Pioneerof The Nile – the same sire as Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. While his breeding may be appealing, his 2017 season has been interrupted with injuries. He had a successful comeback at the Arkansas Derby in April.
4. Gormley, 15-1
One of the best horses currently racing in California, Gormley seems to have the makings of a solid distance horse. His sire’s like has produced other Kentucky Derby winners and his dam’s side is laced with horses that performed well running on turf.
5. Irish War Cry, 6-1
He’s won most of the Grade 2 races he ran in this year, with one out of character defeat in March. His breeding suggests that he has the stamina to be competitive at the 1 1/4 mile distance.
6. Thunder Snow, 20-1
He might not have the best odds in the field, but this Irish-bred, Godolphin-owned gelding has been proving himself on dirt at Meydan in Dubai. In March, he won the 1 3/16 mile UAE Derby, beating out Epicharis and Master Plan.
7. Girvin, 15-1
Currently sitting at the top of the Leaderboard, Girvin has performed well over the last six months. While he seems to have stamina, his sire ran best at the 1 mile distance.
8. Irap, 20-1
A bit of an unlikely candidate, Irap hasn’t had the best winning record leading up to the Derby and secured his at the Bluegrass Stakes in April. His bloodlines suggest he might perform better over longer distances.
9. Untrapped, 30-1
His bloodlines are known more for speed than stamina, but Untrapped’s style suggests that he might want more distance.
10. Patch, 30-1
One of the most talked about horses leading up to the Derby, Patch is quickly becoming a crowd favorite longshot. The little one-eyed wonder is a latecomer on the road to the Derby, but trainer Todd Pletcher and assistant Adele Bellinger seem to have faith in his abilities.
- Farrell, 5-1
- Miss Sky Warrior, 9-2
- Paradise Woods, 5-2
- Abel Tasman, 5-1
- Salty, 6-1